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Author Archives - Courtney

Daodao Coffee built by HAD Architects& EPOS in Japan as a relaxation space in the middle of a busy day

By • Jun 10, 2019

Smack in the middle of the shopping district in Chengdu, China, a lovely two story coffee shop called Daodao Coffee was recently complete by HAD Architects& EPOS with the intention of giving weary shoppers, groups of friends, and quiet individuals a place to gather and find that they’re looking for in one convenient place, without interrupting one another.

The coffee shop is an interesting place to look at the moment you walk through the door. This is primarily because it is at once decorative and also minimalist. This might sound oxymoronic but let us explain; the visual interest of the shop lies in the fact that the very structures or furnishings and the way space is divided is so visually pleasing already that hardly any decor need be added (besides some lovely greenery, of course).
The coffee shop gets quite a lot of traffic thanks to its location in the centre of Intime City Commercial District, but the layout and generally respected atmosphere of nearly spa-like calm, which is supported by the materiality of the place, ensures that one’s ability to do something quiet like read remains in tact no matter how many people come in to order coffee.
Covering a modest 65 square metres, the coffee shop stands two storeys high, which is part of what lends certain spaces to an extra quiet atmosphere. Knowing that different people visit coffee shops for different reasons, designs intentional created some spaces that are more conducive to groups that want to talk, and some, slightly removed, that have a singular comfortable but isolated seat for, say, someone who would like to enjoy a coffee and study outside of their desk at home without interruption.
Another interesting element of the shop is that, despite its aura of a spa that is flooded in natural daylight, all of the lighting on the top floor of DaoDao Coffee, and most on the bottom floor except near the windows, is actually artificial. The intention was to used clean white LED lights and light wood that reflects well but not too harshly in order to create a gentle glow that resembles daylight as closely as possible.
Even though the designers were aiming to establish different spaces for different people and purposes, they hesitated to actually divide space; they didn’t want to create a cubicle-like scenario that might make anyone feel isolated. That’s why you see structures change and seat or table make ups vary from place to place. The division is mental and visual, based more on atmosphere and common sense functionality than in being told which area is separated by which purpose.
The light wood materiality that encompasses most of the shop was a choice made for more than just its ability to reflect light in ideal amounts. The goal was to create a calming space and provide some contrast to the dark metal frames and support details, as well as the artistic looked punched metal panels that do give the space a touch more physical privacy than others.
In contrast to all the seating space present on the top floor, the first floor is slightly more open concept and easier for fast movement. This is where people on the go come in simply to grab refreshment and leave, or where tired shoppers sit on the stools by the window for a brief moment until their friends arrive to meet them and they move elsewhere within the shop or perhaps move on all together.
This side bar provides customers and shoppers a stunning view of the square just outside the shop’s windows. In fact, the draw of having such a vantage point while one rests with a drink for a few brief moments is often what draws otherwise fast paced individuals through the doors to pause and breathe before continuing about their day. Plus, the coffee is great!
For those who venture upstairs and stay much longer, there is a self service desk where customers can fetch and serve lemonade and different coffee and drink ingredients free of charge, simply to encourage them to stay as long as they please. The owners regard this as beneficial even if a person only buys one drink because the space is designed to be enjoyed and shared and perhaps they will feel encouraged to come back another time.
For those who truly are seeking a place outside home that is much more cozy and private, but without being totally devoid of other people, there is a singular seat in a quiet corner. This is understood to be for someone who wishes to concentrate even though they wanted to enjoy the world and some public space while they’re at it.

Photos by ARCH-EXIST

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Flavin Architects renovates Bostonian residential plot to create the Natural Mid-Century Home for a busy family

By • Jun 10, 2019

In the quiet suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts, just out of reach of the city noise, creative architects at Flavin Architects recently completed a renovation project called Natural Mid-Century Home, in which they overhauled a 1950s house to boast modern amenities and layouts with all the charm subtle kitsch of its original version’s era.

Weston is a small town just off the borders of Boston and it is home to many houses that were designed and built by big names in the architectural world between the 1930s and 1950s. Now that the street scape has started to change and those houses have experienced enough wear and tear to need updating, contemporary design teams face an interesting dilemma: do they wipe out what they see to give families the modern homes they need, or do they stay true to the mid-century origins of the building?

In this case, the designers and new owners alike decided for a blend of the two options. While they did choose to quite heavily renovate the original 1958 house to make a home with more physical longevity, they also opted to give it a structure and decor style that clearly hearken back to that time, so the whole place has a modernized mid-century twist.

The owners also had one other special request that resulted in a particularly unique finished product. Having previously lived in Hawaii, they wished to have an outdoor patio space that is reminiscent of their terrace there. Designers opted to use materials that complimented the land, making the patio blend well into both the plot and the living room it extends off of within the interior, making it the perfect open-air transitionary space.

Designers also chose to work with the land in particular ways because the home’s plot is on a small slope. Rather than digging into the ground to anchor a patio, they built a natural rock foundation to create a level surface on which to resurrect the newest parts of their mid-century inspired haven.

Much like the original house and many houses of that time, this new building resembles the ever so common split level in some ways. Once you’ve arisen from the entry, however, things get much more open concept in a way that is far more contemporary and allows good flow of movement, energy, and natural sunlight from stunningly large new energy efficient windows.

Contrary to fully storied houses, the main living spaces in this building sit on the ground level that requires you to rise from the sizeable entry, while the private spaces like bedrooms and master bathrooms are below, lower down the slope. This gives the family a calming sense of privacy while letting the social spaces where guests will visit enjoy deeply sunny afternoons.

For the most part, the house is heavy in a beautifully stained wood that was locally sourced to help it blend, once again, into its surroundings. The shapes and lines chosen for furnishings and finishes, however, are one place where that iconic mid-century sort of “mod” style begins to show through. Beyond that, things are kept quite clean and minimalist, giving the atmosphere a sense of perfectly blended modern nostalgia.

Under the brand new (but definitely vintage styled) slate floor, which has a lovely, kitschy purple-green hue to it, designers also installed a modern update in the form of radiant heat. In combination with the passive heating and cooling of the floor to ceiling glazed windows and the ability of the terrace doors to open one wall entirely, these systems are quite environmentally low impact.

Overall, the house is afforded a sense of having transformed and adapted to its surroundings and new owners’ generation, rather than having lost its authentic charm and been overhauled without regard for its history.

Photos by Nat Rea Photography

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Dodged House, created by Leopold Banchini + Daniel Zamarbide, is a contemporary marbled haven

By • Jun 7, 2019

In the heart of Lisbon, Portugal, a uniquely contemporary home was recently completed by Leopold Banchini + Daniel Zamarbide to combine the beauty of marble with the sweet simplicity of minimalism.

Dodged House was built in one of the countless abandoned spaces that resulted from Portugal’s past decade of economic crisis. Cities like Porta and Lisbon itself became home to closed down buildings and ruined structures that intrigued the international community because of the beauty and potential their original traditional architecture maintained.

With a great sense of southern romanticism, this particular design team decided to revamp a dilapidated building in Lisbon in order to create a shockingly but wonderfully modern looking home within the walls of something historical with need for a new lease on life. As with most others in the area, the renovation was completed with the utmost reverence for the building’s historical and spatial context.

Mimicking the typical architecture in the area, the facade of this building remains quite closed, concealing most of the interior from the prying eyes of the busy city streets outside. At the same time, large, beautiful windows have been added in certain spaces to open the space up and signify the new life the building has been given. At the same time, it gives new owners a stunning view of the city streets as they come back to life.

In addition to paying tribute to the history of the building itself and the surrounding streets, Dodged House is also an homage to the particular style of modernity established by architect Irving Gill; a style often mimicked and harnessed in modern Portuguese architecture when new structures are built.

Inside, the house is quite unique indeed, especially for the area. While the opaque facade outside might be somewhat typical, designers made the inside all about space. Hardly any opaque barriers exist inside the outer walls; instead, rooms and spaces of different function are separated by bright, clear glass. The home takes full advantage of the building’s generous height, expanding upward without growing in width and interrupting the original frame or land it was afforded.

While the void of the interior stretches high, the designers did take advantage of the small original courtyard outside to give it a little more natural space despite the calm, ethereal feeling of the otherwise quite closed off home. A spinning glass door gives easy visual and physical access, blending the two areas beautifully and saving the interior from feeling too closed off.

The house boasts three bedrooms which are arranged within four superposed floors; these look like layers of the house stacked one on top of the other. The materiality on each is simple and helped keep the renovation affordable. The tiles and stones featured in the walls, furniture, and floors were all sourced locally. The presence of concrete contrasts cleanly with that of white marble.

The beauty of the inner area, including the lovely quiet space that is the home library, is only bolstered further by the contrast between its shining new modernity and the fact that the facade outside has been largely left in its original, historical state. A light cleaning to extend its life did nothing to take away its status as a reminder of Lisbon’s history amidst what is now a fast changing and ever modernizing cityscape.

Photos by Dylan Perrenoud

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Remedy Partners Offices redesigned by Amenta Emma Architects for comfort and growth

By • Jun 7, 2019

In the bustling downtown core of Norwalk, Connecticut, the brand new Remedy Partners Offices were recently provided a refreshing facelift by innovative design teams at Amenta Emma Architects.

Remedy Partners is a healthcare technology company that provides all kinds of specialized goods and services to health professionals and facilities in the surrounding area. Their old offices were not longer the kind of flexible, fast paced environment they wished to provide their own employees on a daily basis, so they opted for an update that might diversify and streamline things for the better.

Employees at Remedy Partners have need of flexible, free flowing spaces and a number of different settings that will serve different functions for their quick paced jobs throughout the day. The primary goal of designers was to give all workers present, no matter their role, a place to work that feels efficient and yet comfortable and familiar, almost second nature.

In addition to feeling comfortable, designers also wanted to create a space full of gentle visual stimulation that might help employees feel motivated to produce their best work. They oped to create shared spaces that facilitate easy teamwork and collaborative time, but also placed value on quieter, more private spaces for those people who need some solid individual time to put their heads down and get to work at their own pace.

Long tables, sofa booths, individualized desks, and quiet rooms, all furnished in calming neutrals and with a blend of natural and industrial materials, provide these diverse workspaces. No matter the kind of worker you are, nor the kind of space that helps you excel the best, you’ll find it easily and accessibly within these offices.

At Remedy Partners, employees are not anchored to one singular spot to do their jobs. They might claim an assigned space but, should they feel that a change of scenery or setup might benefit their work, they’re free (and even encouraged) to seek that out for the sake of their productivity.

In terms of aesthetic, designers sought to establish harmony and balance in all senses. For example, taking inspiration from places like the New York Public Library, these offices were built to feel open and airy but also private and cozy if and when necessary. Within that dynamic, a rugged and industrial feeling scheme in the communal spaces contrasts seamlessly with softer and more comfortable quiet spaces furnished with cozy armchairs and relaxing nooks.

In efforts to take the concepts of motivation, productivity, and calm to all different levels, the office even contains a “no phone zone”. Visually, this space is separated from others in the office through aesthetic, but it’s actually also separated acoustically to drown out the bustle of the more public group work spaces. The “no phone zone” is modelled after the quiet spaces found in places like college libraries and is often used for anything from solitary work to group collaboration or even small presentations.

Photos by Robert Benson Photography

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TTK Represents completes update on Midcentury Getaway with a fantastic sense of mod style

By • Jun 6, 2019

Under the beautiful, bright sun of Joshua Tree in California, design teams at TTK Represents have completed a fun, stylish updating project on an old home, the newly named Midcentury Getaway.

From the very beginning of the project’s plans, designers prioritized creating a unique combination of classic midcentury minimalism, lovely bright and natural light, and sweeping view of the deserts surrounding the house; the kind of views that can truly only be found in Joshua Tree.

The original house, which was built in 1961, was a standard midcentury desert home situated not far from downtown Joshua Tree. The plot it stands in affords the house lovely views of a close by national park and surrounding valley areas. These stunning natural views through the windows contrast wonderfully with the sense of chic flair one encounters on the inside.

Covering 1,307 square feet, the Midcentury Getaway house can be easily distinguished by its recognizable brise-soleil. This is the stunning cutout concrete work that provides a sort of privacy screen and provides shade to the patio and even part of the inner living space through the large front window, preventing the space from heating up too much in the desert sun.

The house is a simple L-shape but its interiors are still quite open concept and free flowing, without harsh divisions of space. This helps keep things nice and bright while the colour schemes and decor give the place a cozy feeling. Perhaps the most notable feature in the living room is a wood burning fireplace, faced so that it overlooks the patio and it’s lovely desert view.

Next to the fireplace, which keeps the house warm on those surprisingly cool desert nights, the house actually features a rectangular cutout in the wall specifically designed to store firewood. When wood is placed there, it suits well with the little wooden writing desk fitted in perfectly to its own window, where the view can inspire whatever work is being done on the desktop.

Past the living room, with its mod looking, midcentury style furniture and colour pops, is a cozy dining nook and an efficient looking, minimalist style kitchen. Walnut, which can be seen in furnishings dotted throughout the house, is featured here again in the custom made cabinets, which contrast nicely with the quartz countertops.

Past the common spaces, there are two bedrooms- a master and a guest suite- and a bathroom. Beyond that, around the back of the house, sits a unique “guest pod”. Depending on the dwellers’ needs, this might serve as an additional bedroom or perhaps some kind of studio, art space, or writer’s retreat.

The master bedroom features the same kind of bright floor-t0-ceiling sliding doors as the living, each leading to sunny patios. On days when the doors must stay closed for weather, the room still gets plenty of light thanks to a long rectangular window set into an intriguing textured wall. In the master bathroom, to the side, radiant heating warms the space from the floor up to combat the cold of desert nights and the winter season.

Photos by Chris Menrad

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Architects at Nico van der Meulen renovate the 12th century, Italian Stone Guardhouse

By • Jun 6, 2019

In the luscious valley surrounding Umbira in Italy, architectural and design teams at Nico van der Meulen recently transformed a 12th century guardhouse into a charming family farmhouse with a sense of historical charm. The Stone Guardhouse is a beautifully sprawling blend of traditional local culture and modern living.

Once a defence fortress in the area, the Stone Guardhouse is now a breathtaking luxury family residence in the Umbrian valley. In order to pay proper homage to the history of the building and its local area, designers kept the basic structure of the building largely untouched, maintaining its original facade as best they could as well except in places of great wear.

Part of the reason designers sought so strongly to leave the Guardhouse’s structure as authentic as possible is its proximity to ancient Roman ruins. Heavy construction on one historical structure might affect the safety of others close by as it change the traditional visual fabric of the area. In fact, approval processes for the plans for this project, which was as un-intrusive as possible, took almost three years to complete!

In the end, a few minimal additions were approved but they were kept conservative and topical. Even so, these offered designers an opportunity to provide certain inner areas of the new farmhouse a little more light. Architects were also able to open out a connecting courtyard between the two main buildings of the Stone Guardhouse, near which parts of a brand new kitchen sit.

This courtyard became the home of a stunning lanai where a comfortable swimming pool stretches. Where these new areas were created, interventions were done in a way that kept design and construction teams mindful of the local history and sensitive of the building’s context.

Another addition was added not far off in the form of a pleasing looking steel staircase. This sits in a spatial void and provides a simple physical link between the ground floor living areas, where the flat-roofed kitchen sits, and the upper area featuring a master suite, guest bedroom, study, and even a painter’s studio.

All across the Stone Guardhouse’s facade, the building received some maintenance care to keep it in good condition so it will last. The original stonework where wear and tear had taken its toll over time was carefully rebuilt (and the same was done for the bits of stonework in the interior as well). In any places where new stone was added, teams took care to source it un-intrusively from the immediate area, keeping the facade and general structure in proper context regarding history and locale.

Where possible, the timber trusses and beams stretching across the interior wooden ceilings were recycled and repurposed. The contrast between the fresh wood and the old stone creates a comfortable and warm atmosphere at the same time as the visual style is quite eclectic and full of historical character. Black steel and raw concrete enhance the sense of a soft, natural palette.

The furniture and art pieces that were carefully selected for the interior spaces follow the same colour scheme. This was intentional in order to create a sort of cohesive sense of calm brightness throughout the entire stone building. Overall, the project was completed with respect for history and patience with the need for care and authenticity.

Photos provided by the architects.

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The Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins+Will São Paulo

By • Jun 5, 2019

Amidst the abundant greenery of Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, a stunning rectangular home blends beautifully into the natural environment surrounding it. The Ribeirão Preto Residence by Perkins+Will São Paulo  features a beautiful green rooftop that makes the dwelling look like it grew right out of the land.

Besides the lush grass covering the whole top of one roof, the most notable feature of the house is undoubtedly its dramatic looking, rectangular cantilevered roof, which provides shade to several areas of the house and yard, including an equally impressive pool that overhangs in another rectangular volume, just like the main portion with the green roof.

Another notable feature about the house is its stunning and seamless feeling indoor-outdoor layout and connection. The interior of the main living spaces is quite open concept already and that theme is actually extended beyond the home’s border in the way stunning full glass doors slide open entirely to merge spots like the living room with the sunny patio outside, creating flow.

Initially, besides making sure that the home would be stylish and yet suitable for a young family with kids, designers’ biggest challenge was working on a plot of land with a natural slope. Though not dramatic, the slope still changes the landscape enough to require special consideration in building and design.

Intent on being as respectful of the countryside as possible, designers opted to structure the house so that it works with the slope, rather than cutting into it and interrupting the natural landscape in the area. This is what inspired the home’s two volume L-shape. One volume contains the public spaces where guests might be entertained while the other houses private spaces with their own connection to the sunny outdoors.

In terms of materiality, the Ribeirão Preto Residence is heavy in concrete dotted with warm wood accents, creating a comforting contrast. Each volume appears as a single solid block of concrete, like a pair of monoliths. The place where the cantilevered roof hangs over the lower volume appears to connect the two parts of the house visually right where they’re actually connected on the inside.

Because the common spaces of the house are situated on the upper block, they’re afforded stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. This arrangement also increases the privacy of the bedroom spaces, creating a sense of relaxation and pleasant disconnect in the private rooms. This isn’t to say, however, that they feel secluded; every room in the house has open access to the fresh gardens surrounding it, after all! Designers were positively intent on building a strong relationship between the home and nature.

Wooden screens featured in certain places on the home’s facade and within its interior do more than just contribute to the serene aesthetic and provide increase privacy; they also allow for some ventilation in a place that gets very hot in the summer. Together with the lush grass of the green rooftop above the bedrooms and the way the pool extends towards the slope to disappear into the tropical foliage at once end, the whole area within and surrounding the house feels almost spa-like.

Photos provided by the architects.

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House in Silhouette by Atelier red+black

By • Jun 4, 2019

In the beautiful, sprawling suburbs of Berwick, Australia, innovative designers and architects at Atelier red+black recently completed a family home, the House in Silhouette, that is nothing short of stunning.

The site upon which the house sits is an impressive slope of 1.6 acres. It sits on the edge of a city, close enough for great access to amenities, but far enough outside the busy limits to feel a bit like a calm escape. The size of the plot and the new home that sits upon it is perfect for a small hobby farm, or perhaps ownership of a horse or two!

The natural beauty of this piece of land encouraged designers to build the new home without actually interfering with it as much as they possibly could. They sought to create an experiential dwelling that fit with its slightly countryside setting but that still provides a contemporary influenced lifestyle for the young family moving in.

The result was a durable and comfortable Australian house with a farmhouse chic aesthetic. It possesses two distinct volumes with a recessed hallway link between them and gables outside. The clean looking white painted brick found in the facade is neatly accented with dark steel elsewhere in the frame and furnished features. That playful contrast of light and dark is a theme you’ll find all throughout the home, which helps blend it more subtly into the countryside.

Flexibility, functionality, and free space were central tenets when it came to planning the home itself and how it might be used. A sense of luxury was requested for the retired owners, but style, diversity, and simple use were also required for multi-generational extended family who might live there intermittently throughout the year.

As far as bedrooms are concerned, the occasional residence of extended family was accounted for in the smaller gabled wing of the house. Here, three comforting and sizeable bedrooms were built with various branches of the family in mind and set behind sliding doors that can be thrown open for welcoming space and flow or closed off when the wing isn’t being used.

Flexibility within certain spaces was also prioritized during the design and construction process. The goal was to provide all different family members present with the freedom to use the room how they need or please at any given moment in order to create an overarching sense of satisfaction to everyone in the space on any given day.

Designers wanted to be able to present the family with a house that they could somewhat mould, nest into, and make their own over time, rather than just giving them a rigidly divided structure with specific functions limiting the way each room might be used. They wanted to provide open, comfortable rooms that might be used for work, play, study, relaxation or nearly anything else interchangeably.

Views of nature and the presence of light play a large rope in the experience of the home as well. Rooms and windows were purposely situated to ensure that each room in the house gets some kind of green scenery in one direction or another through the high, clear windows. At the back of the house, natural light was actually prioritized so highly that a small “light courtyard” was built specifically to make sure the family room stays adequately bright.

This additional small courtyard was not just wasted space or single function! Designers saw it as a light source and an opportunity for additional garden space! They used the courtyard to incorporate more greenery and also the presence of bluestone, which is a reflection of its natural occurrence in the landscape around the house and Berwick’s history of quarrying the stone in past decades.

Photos by Peter Bennetts

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German Villa Hohenlohe created by PHILIPPARCHITEKTEN for modern living with as much sunlight as possible!

By • Jun 4, 2019

The German named Villa Hohenlohe, which translates to House Phillip, was built by PHILIPPARCHITEKTEN as an impressively cubic dwelling that looks almost like a sculpture sitting near the mountains in Waldenburg, Germany.

Because of its stunning but unique location perched on a small mountain ridge, House Phillip presented both opportunities and challenges to designers and construction teams alike. No matter how the new house might be situated, it was sure to provide views of unparalleled beauty to the North, but it also required strong anchoring to an uneven terrain.

Designers knew immediately that they view was paramount, so one of the first features they incorporated into the home was the central glazed and frameless window setting that appears to make an entirely see-through wall along one side of the home’s main “cube”. This gives the rooms directly inside plenty of natural sunlight and enhances the concept of living in harmony with nature, blending it right into the home experience and visual.

As they developed beyond these main windows, designers envisioned the basic structure of what they were building to be like a cube encased in a glass box. Inside, to offset the sleek materiality of the facade and the streamlined shapes throughout, comfort is added to the common spaces through elm wood detailing and furnishings. This lovely neutral finish travels through out the kitchen, across the staircase, and into the upper levels of the cube.

Following the wood upward, and cantilevered top floor give the appearance that the private spaces are almost floating lightly above the glass box of the bright ground floor. In a very unique act of space usage, a long hallway with impressive width stretches from one side of the upper floor all the way to the other, doubling as a space in which the kids can play games.

This central upper hallway also boasts almost 15 metres of closet space built into the walls, giving the home generous storage, even for its size; a particular bonus for a large family. This isn’t the only feature that’s fit for fast paced family life. The cube’s main entrance is quite grand and stately but, in order to keep it that way for visitors, you’ll find the “dirt trap” just off to the side.

The first trap is a casual family entrance that’s equipped a little better for things like rain covered jackets and little muddy shoes. The space features a locker for each child in the family to store their daily outwear in, helping to keep them organized in the mornings and evenings and contain clutter as much as possible from spilling into the main entrance and living room. The first trap even features its own sink for hand washing!

We’ve already gushed liberally about the presence of smooth, light elm wood, but the living room brings in several other complementary elements in terms of materiality. Here, you’ll also find light grey Spanish sandstone amidst the wood and other finely finished white surfaces. These mimic the white faced concrete walls in the home’s cubic face and create a sense of consistency.

The final point on the complete sentence of nature’s inclusion in the home’s plans and respect for the scenery around it is the old pear tree rooted right outside the entrance. Its warped, authentic shape that constitutes part of the natural history of the land provides the yard with some shade no hot days and softens the edges of the cube to blend even more with the mountainside.

Photos by Oliver Schuster

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Franz Designs creates Fraktio Offices to feel like a second home but with a motivational atmosphere

By • Jun 3, 2019

In the bustling city streets of downtown Helsinki in Finland, a company called Fraktio has chosen to work with design and architectural teams at Franz Designs to create a new office space that will make their employees feel right at home while they work.

Fraktio, a company that designs innovative web services and mobile applications, made the decision to renovate with the goal of offering their employees a quiet space that comes across just cozy enough for them to feel like they’re right at home but still engaged and motivated enough for productive work.

From the beginning, designers oriented their focus around the concept of creating a space where people might actually want to spend time. The office is supposed to feel less like a place where people have to be and more like a place where they might actually enjoy hanging out with the people around them.

In their industry, the concept of overtime work is no stranger to any employee. Hours are fluid and schedules change frequently, so people often find themselves working at varying times of day. This was the primary motivation behind making the brand new offices feel like a place of comfort and easy socialization as well as work. Ideally, no one will feel “chained” to their desk and people might perform better because they enjoy their job and the space they’re working in.

In order to achieve their homey end goal, designers gave the office all kinds of thoughtful but quite low maintenance extra features, choosing to create spaces that might provide either relaxation or mental stimulation between tasks. In short, the Fraktio Offices have just about everything you could possibly need, right there near your work station!

Among these unique and frankly awesome special features is a panorama sauna where employees can seek quiet and calm, a DIY space where they can explore their creative side, and even an old fashioned style movie theatre where they can get a bit of inspiration or simply give their brains a break through sheer entertainment right there at work.

In order to keep a sense of balance in the space and build an environment that fosters productivity at the heart of things, designers also made sure to provide Fraktio with all kinds of diverse and thoughtfully put together spaces geared towards work itself. These include several different meeting places large enough to comfortably gather the entire staff at once for meetings and collaborative efforts.

The main group meeting space is the kitchen and dining area (which, like most other spots, are fully equipped with just about everything your own home might offer). The kitchen area is spacious and communal, fully equipped for any type of cooking or meal prep. The dining area, on the other side of the kitchen island, blends seamlessly into a lounge space. This means that a speaker can be heard all around while employees sit in comfort no matter where they’re situated.

Perhaps the most widely used unique feature of the whole office, in terms of those spaces designed to clear ones mind and give them a fresh start part way through their day, is the sauna. This is a fully functioning steam room, sitting in the centre of the office building on the 8th floor. Its position here means that, besides warmth and relaxation, the sauna also offers a breathtaking view!

Photos by Vuokko Salo.

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Candy Loft by StudioAC

By • Jun 3, 2019

Amidst the bustling streets of Toronto, Canada, StudioAC has created a contemporary apartment that is nothing short of darling. The Candy Loft is the perfect space for anyone whose tastes fall somewhere between cutesy and sophisticated.

The loft is situated in the second story of a hard loft conversation project, with lobby access that exits onto a busy city street in the middle of Toronto’s West End. Beyond just being wonderfully decorated, the loft was created with the foal of providing its owner with an escape space that feels private and calm within the big city and all the demands on city life.
Upon entering the apartment, visitors experience an entrance space that, besides welcoming friends and family, serves to provide more private spaces in the home a bit of delineation, away from the front door. The aim of this corridor was explicitly to buffer the owner’s living spaces from the rest of the building outside its limits.
While this separation already increases a sense of tranquility throughout the home, it also situates the living spaces perfectly at the back of the apartment so as to afford them the best view. Throughout the living room and kitchen, beautiful floor to ceiling windows overlook not just the city skyline, but also a canopy of green trees directly below the apartment.
Within the living spaces of the apartment, designers sought to hit a perfect balance of spacial layout. While the overall aim from conception was certainly to create a feeling of tranquil privacy all throughout, they also wanted to give the most commonly used rooms good flow without leaving them entirely open concept.
To compromise between all of these goals in a way that contributes to the decor, designers opted to build a series arched hallways leading from room to room. These are open and inviting but still create visual buffers between one space and the next. These arching halls are what lead dwellers from their public, common, and hosting spaces into the private areas of their home.

Down each of these hallways, floors made of smooth, solid douglas fir are warmed by and reflect the light of soft LED lights featured all along the base of the walls. These create a sense of tranquil comfort and made the transitions from room to room feel almost ethereal. The upward flow of the light spans around you towards the curved ceiling of the archway like a fairytale spot.

Overall, the Candy Loft was a foray into exploring materiality and blended aesthetics for both owner and designer. It at once achieves a sense of formality and of whimsical comfort. Copper is added to the light wood and clean, white surfaces in places like the kitchen for a contemporary sheen that contrasts well with the playful glow found elsewhere throughout the home.
This copper was actually chosen intentionally to add a sense of planned change over time. After some use, copper begins to show charming signs of weathering over time. Rather than looking like unappealing wear and tear, it can add character to a room, which is precisely the goal here, in this space where aesthetics and atmospheres are blended in unique ways. The Candy loft exudes intimacy, a sense of the natural, and an escape from city life, all in one place.

Photos by Jeremie Warshafsky

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Romanian Evening on the Hill designed by Fabrica de arhitectura to provide owners with a private haven in an urban setting

By • May 31, 2019

Just past the city centre of Bucharest, Romania, a lovely family home called Evening on the Hill was designed and built by Fabrica de Arhitectura to provide a family with more privacy, calm, and quiet despite their close proximity to the excitement and convenience that city life provides.

Because the area chosen for the house, though slightly removed from the downtown core, is still so densely populated, the designers on this project took several measures with the primary aim of giving the family a more intimate environment in which to live. At the same time, they sought to built a home with an efficient eco-design and smart energy use in order to keep costs down.

Part of the work in making the space feel slightly more secluded than it really is was already achieve in the fact that the plot sits on a small private road, set away from the main drag. Here, only five homes have been built, with no plans for more. On that road, a sense of community is built within the privacy and peaceful seclusion, almost like those neighbours are their own little full community.

Besides sharing a road, the homes surrounding the new house also share a courtyard (which is central for socializing but has been divided into smaller units to portion fair space to each family), an indoor swimming pool, and a relaxing communal spa area. Access to these stunning features is reserved for residents of the road and their guests only, keeping things clean and making it feel like an extension of one’s actual home.

As a result of these fantastic shared amenities, a unique blending of semi-public and private space is established. This enhances the residents’ sense of community with each other but, thanks to the foliage surrounding each house and every shared space, still restricts the area from the wider world enough that one might also feel closer to nature and the quiet that green spaces offer.

Inside the new house, as is true with the others, that sense of shared space but easy access to private calm is continued. The homes are carefully decorated down to the smallest detail, featuring traditional Romanian motifs within the interior design scheme of each one. Visual patterns and local natural materiality are combined in each home’s living spaces, creating an aesthetic that is carefully balanced between local cultural living and contemporary lifestyles.

As if these features weren’t enough, the houses themselves were actually even placed and situated with strategy. Each one sits in a direction, with a very intentional room arrangement, such that one might enjoy their morning coffee while watching the sunrise from their living room and then, later in the day, witness the sunset from the comfort of their bedroom on the other side of the house. Serenity and nature combine once more in this unique element.

Photos by Cosmin Dragomir

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Multiple Courtyard House by Poetic Space Studio features almost as many private outdoor spaces as interior rooms

By • May 31, 2019

On the outskirts of Bangkok in Thailand, a stunningly bright and open family home called Multiple Courtyard House was specifically designed by Poetic Space Studio to take advantage of the beautiful weather through, as its name suggests, multiple lovely outdoor courtyards!

The house was commissioned by a family looking to resettle themselves in the calmer edges of the city, away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core where they’d lived previously. Their standard city-style row house simply wouldn’t do for their seven multi-generational family members any longer, particularly since they all had different needs based on their different ages.

Besides just needing more physical space in general, the growing children were also finding a need for more personal space of their own inside the home as well. Additionally, the family and designers alike wanted to prioritize an increase in common and social spaces where family members might do activities together and bond despite the increase in private time and areas.

Although still quite agricultural, the area the new house was built in is afforded all close by amenities by virtue of the fact that is sits in a sort of small, calm suburb of Bangkok. This means living is still urban and convenient while room is afforded for the house and family to spread out. Dreams of having their own kitchen garden for example, might finally come true!

The home’s angled and stacked looking exterior features impressively tall glazed windows and smoothly wooden slatted doors that make it resemble a sort of spa. Even from the outside, onlookers can see the blinds that one might pull down when the summer sun becomes too intense and the abundant natural daylight that spills in from every direction can be spared.

Inside the house, six bedrooms and a large shared bathroom make up the private wing, while the half of the house across from it, through the front hall, houses the common spaces. Although not small, the bedrooms are quite modest. They give each family member that much needed privacy without taking up too much space in the house so that shared family areas can still be prioritized as far as layout is concerned.

This is the first way that the home’s multiple courtyards serve a functional purpose. The smaller courtyard extends such that it creates a small spatial division between the private and public sectors, making the bedrooms feel even more like one’s own without actually secluding them or closing them away. the sunny little courtyard with its small water feature is simply a visual demarcation of function, as well as a place to relax. It also sits in the centre of the layout, anchoring the house.

Besides that, two other courtyards can be enjoyed. The largest main courtyard features a cool, serene swimming pool and a luscious green garden. The two together create a space of relaxation and calm where one can always seek sunlight and fresh air. Because of the way the interior living spaces open right onto the courtyard’s patio, it becomes the central hub of most family activity and social time.

The third courtyard, which is small like the first, is home to a lovely flowering tree to the size of the bedroom wing. Inset into the home’s structure between the two sides of the wing, it simultaneously increases privacy from one set of rooms to the other but also presents another common space in which family members might spend quiet time together.

Photos by Songtam Srinakarin

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Contemporary Project #3 created by Studio Wills + Architects to provide a visual “break” on an old city street

By • May 30, 2019

On an fairly new, busy street in Singapore, architects and designers from Studio Wills + Architects have completed Project #3 in an interesting looking and impressive attempt to break up the visual line of standard, similar townhouses all along the sidewalk so the eye’s palate gets a little something different as the public passes by.

The Project #3 house is a lovely, spacious bungalow in an exclusive and calm residential enclave. The neighbourhood consists of 106 semi-detached homes and three bungalows. The intention of including these bungalows along the street from the very beginning was to break up the repetitive look of the many semi-detached homes in each row with a big of height and width difference.

The image designers had in mind placing so many nearly identical homes together and then breaking them up periodically with the three bungalows was that of a necklace with different kinds of beads strung periodically to break up smaller repeated ones. Think of big rounded beads string between smaller pearls!

The area of land that the enclave occupies is a long and quite thin, keeping in a straight line all the way down in a linear manner. This is another place where alternating lower standing bungalow houses with taller semi-detached houses was a purposeful design choice; the difference in levels between the houses helps stop the street from feeling like an opaque wall all the way down.

Amidst the semi-detached homes, several courtyards were built into the ground covered by the smaller dwellings to ensure that each home gets some kind of outdoor space, as well as lots of light. The courtyards present increased surface area for bright windows in both the back and front, keeping all of the houses, no matter their structure, comfortable and well lit.

The courtyards serve several other purposes as well. Adding more window space provides additional ventilation along with the abundant natural light. The convenient outdoor spaces between the technical plots of the semi-detached houses also make the space that belongs to each feel more distinct, autonomous, and independent of each other despite their close proximity.

In terms of their style, both the bungalows and the semi-detached houses were specifically designed with a combination of features that might make them suit multi-generational families. The homes are fully equipped but also quite open concept, with diverse spaces that might be used for all kinds of communal or private activities. This theme extends into the outdoor courtyards, which feature relaxing patio spaces, greenery, and small swimming pools.

Between the intentionally differently levelled houses and the additional visual breaks provided by the sunny courtyards, the taller semi-detached houses appear like small towers. The skyline of the street takes on a prismatic quality that creates a stunningly interesting silhouette from a distance.

In terms of materiality, the towers are constructed from 2-stone sand shades, with surface textures akin to that of a rock face full of crevices. This contrasts with the bungalow’s black, slightly more sleek appearance. In the low home’s interior, the intention of the decor was to create a balance of void spaces and solid spaces, which naturally creates contrasts in dark and light.

Photos provided by the architects.

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MOIA Offices by Laik.Design

By • May 30, 2019

In the city centre of Hamburg, Germany, a subsidiary company of the iconic Volkswagen brand recently commissioned architects at Laik.Design to redo their primary work spaces. That’s how the MOIA Offices got their bright and innovative new look!

MOIA is the branch of the larger Volkswagen company that provides on-demand mobility services to the surrounding area and internationally. From the beginning, the goal was to provide an open, bright, and engaging space with all kinds of diverse, comfortable, and motivating places for employees to choose from to work.

The office at large occupies a 1,400 square metre space in the centre of the historic Stadthöfe building in Hamburg’s downtown core. Referred to as a “work home” rather than just an office, the space is known for its cozy, comfortable layout and amicable atmosphere, as well as its incorporation of cheerful, motivating bright colours, decor, and themes that change from spot to spot.

In total, the office is “home” to 120 employees. Designers took great care and put thoughtful effort into making sure the space offers flexible meeting boxes for smaller (one on one or in teams of four) collaboration situations, individual study spaces, kitchen and break areas, and common spaces for visitors to wait or meet with employees in.

The kitchen, which is fully equipped just like a kitchen in the average home, lies in the very heart of the office like a central hub. In the corner, a fully functioning cafe station sits for smaller break when an employee simply needs a walk around and a coffee to fresh themselves before getting back to work.

Larger meetings and full office presentations are accounted for in the layout as well. To the side of the kitchen is a spacious communal seating area for workshops and meetups. Acoustics around the office at large were improved from what the building originally had to offer in the way LAIK.Design conceptualized and installed a tailor-made wooden ceiling.

Besides improving sound quality and travel power, the custom ceiling is actually also quite decorative. It is made from wooden triangles, circles, and battens that have a sort of intriguing visual quality that easily catches the yes of visitors. This plays off the presence of bright wall murals and art pieces by local artists that depict and play off of themes of social movements and networking and other things interlinked with the company’s business and industry.

Photos by Sarah Rubensdörffer

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Virginia House created by Lucas Amione from local social housing to repurpose local historical homes

By • May 29, 2019

In what used to be a social housing neighbourhood in Santiago, Chile, Lucas Amione has created the Virginia House, a refurbishment project designed to create a modern, stylish, and comfortable home from a piece of local history.

The neighbourhood where the house sits newly transformed was established and built in the early 1960s. The dwellings there were all created using prefabricated designs involving concrete panels and wooden trussed roofs with a saddle shape. Over time, the economic growth in the city influenced its social and architectural fabric, generating continuous change and improvement in the area, particularly in recent decades.

This particular dwelling was actually one of the last on the street left in its original state by the time designers selected it for renovation. Teams arrived on site to find a building in its precise old construction, one of only a few that hadn’t yet had any type of intervention to its interior or exterior.

In order to give the modest original dwelling a little more expanse, designers began reconstruction by expanding its limits to the edges of the plot horizontally, stretching to the east and west. The house received a vertical expansion as well, this time from light steel rather than the same heavy materials originally used to build its foundation.

These expansions make much better use of the plot than the original design but still leave space in the front and back, as well as to the sides of the house. On one side, owners are afforded access to parking, leaving the other side for a stunning garden that wasn’t there before. Bringing additional greenery into the scene brightens the whole plot and helps bring it to the level of those houses on the street around it that have already been updated.

Inside the refurbished home, the same goal of expanding and using space more effectively continues but designers also heavily prioritized the amount of natural sunlight that might reach the interior spaces. Now, a double story vertical void of freeing space right in the centre of the house lets light permeate just about every corner. A light staircase connects the home’s two levels through this space.

While the vertical space gives a sense of openness and freedom to the bottom floor, it also provides a sense of privacy and intimacy to the bedrooms upstairs; building them to be closed off along the side of the void’s top creates a border and makes them feel cozy instead of dark.

The way the windows are placed in the house does more than just let sunlight in, even though that was top interior priority. Where the windows are situated in the house also plays a huge role in heat regulation, which is important in Chile’s hot summer afternoons. Windows are purposely placed towards the north while solid walls are built along the west side, letting passive heat control work in partnership with various ventilation systems.

Speaking of ventilation, the wooden cladding on the facade of the home’s upper floor is, besides being decorative, actually a ventilated wall system! This portion of the house helps reduce thermal transmittance through the walls. On the ground floor, the exteriors are painted a dark, neutral colour that contrasts well with the much brighter interiors. The transformation that takes place when guests enter into the colourfully accented interior after witnessing these darker neutrals establishes a sense of modern sophistication.

The final huge priority in transforming this house was to create a better relationship between the dwelling (even in its interior spaces) and the outside world, blending indoor and outdoor experiences. The first step towards this was taken when a glass wall made from floor to ceiling sliding doors was installed in the warm but shaded back of the house, allowing the living room to be opened onto a patio full of fresh breezes.

The final (and perhaps most pleasant) effort in creating a better relationship between the house and its surrounding outdoor area is the small courtyard to one side, near the garden. It sits in an indentation of the home’s wall, which affords it some privacy, and enjoys the shade of a small green tree. Rather than green lawns like the rest of the yard, this place is more of a serene rock garden.

Photos by Pablo Casals Aguirre

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The Chalet du Bois Flotté built by BOOM TOWN to mimic the first homes every built along the St Lawrence Valley

By • May 29, 2019

Amidst the stunning waterside greenery of La Malbaie in Canada, innovative designers and architectural teams at BOOM TOWN has created The Chalet du Bois Flotté in the image of the first homes originally built all along the St Lawrence Valley.

In English, the home is aptly named The Driftwood Chalet. It sits delicately on a gently sloping terrace of land, overlooking Cap-a-l’Aigle and the Malbaie River. The view provided by this vantage point affords the home a breathtaking view of the river’s winding shape and slow tides. The chalet features the traditional gabled roof and rectangular structure of those original historical homes it’s intended to emulate so closely.

The chalet consists of two clear but seamlessly connected volume. These are joined at right angles to each other in order to create a full structure that looks refined even as it appears rustic. The roof, which is made of locally sourced steel, extends in certain places to provide coverage over the edges of the walls, contrasting well with the cedar of the gables.

The chalet was built with not just the possibility of wear and weathering in mind, but rather the purposeful intention of accommodating it and letting it become part of the building’s character and aesthetic. Designers used cedar partially for the way that contact with the fresh sea air will gradually oxidize it, giving it that particularly lovely silvery quality that is so characteristic and notorious in seaside dwellings.

The way the chalet is nestled into the land terrance on which it sits lets the indoor spaces it provides merge seamlessly with the outdoors for a stunning indoor-outdoor blending experience. This is particularly true where the two volumes of the house meet. All around the outer walls, large windows provide unparalleled views and give the interior spaces abundant light.

The strategic use of metal contrasted with light cedar wood undoubtedly gives the home a sense of authenticity, but also a sort of charming pre-worn quality, almost like it’s actually made of driftwood that has been carried by the currents of the water it overlooks. It is impressive but modest nestled into the landscape, contributing to the beauty rather than interrupting it.

The inside of the house is similarly modern and rustic at once, providing all the amenities of contemporary living with that same authentic looking rustic character. The decor scheme is typical of Scandinavian approaches to interiors. The floors are polished concrete from the entrance all the way to the full hight glass wall that makes up the entire Western face and opens the communal living spaces into the outdoor environment surrounding the house.

Set below the main public spaces, lower down the slope, lie the children’s rooms. These are not, however, just bedrooms for sleeping. This portion of the house is an entire level meant for play and relaxation. From here to the main living room, a moveable ladder leads onto the mezzanine level, giving little ones a fun way to scramble upwards for meals or school.

Photos by Maxime Brouillet

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